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OCO Family Care Program Offers Fulfillment


When Sue Rowe’s mother passed away it left a void in her life. She was her mother’s caregiver for a number of years and it was a role she cherished. With her mother no longer there life just wasn’t the same. “I love helping people and looking after them,” said Rowe. “I missed that aspect of my life. I not only missed my Mom, I missed being able to take care of someone.”

Rowe had no idea that a lunch outing with her husband Bill would offer her the opportunity she was longing for. “When we were at Steph’s Place Diner in Pulaski, I noticed an ad on the placemat for Oswego County Opportunities Family Care Program. The program sounded interesting and I called to find out more about it. After speaking with Family Care Specialist Penny Foster-Pratt I knew I wanted to be part of the Family Care Program, and began the process to become a host home.”

Family Care host homes provide residents with a private living space and three meals a day. Providers also offer support and guidance with their resident’s daily schedule. To ensure a positive experience for both the resident and the home provider, participants in the Family Care program are screened and matched with a suitable home provider. “From the location of the home to the unique personalities of those involved, we see to it that it is a mutually beneficial relationship,” said Foster-Pratt.

“When Penny explained the program to us I was excited for the opportunity,” said Rowe. “It was just what I needed. I knew it would fill the emptiness of no longer having my mom to care for. The idea appealed to us so much that we remodeled our house a bit so that we could host two residents!”

Upon arriving at their new home the residents were quite surprised to see that their new home offered much more than a quiet rural setting. What they discovered was that the Rowe residence was also home to a quite an assortment of animals and pets. They were thrilled at the sight of the miniature horses, goats, alpacas, pot-bellied pigs, ducks, chickens, and turkeys. It was like a trip to a petting zoo, only they would be able to enjoy it every day – as this photo shows!

As host home providers the Rowes receive training and support on issues such as effective communication, special diet, and medications, as well as CPR and first aid. They receive 24-hour staff support and semi-annual respite. Residents also enjoy a high level of case management and support. “We appreciate our host home providers and see to it that it is a rewarding experience for them,” said Foster-Pratt.

“Penny is great,” added Rowe. “She helps with doctor appointments, transportation, and is understanding when it comes to managing schedules. She also assists with paperwork, ensures that guidelines are met, and offers emotional and financial support.”

“Being a host home is everything I hoped it would be,” added Rowe. “Bill and I enjoy having our residents with us. We enjoy spending time with them and they quickly became an important part of our family. We see to it that their needs are met and that they are active in the community.  They love interacting with, and helping to take care of, the animals. And whether it’s a shopping trip, lunch at the diner, or a ride in country they enjoy their outings with us.”    

OCO’s Family Care program is a NYS OMH certified residential program for adults with a disability. Through its host homes OCO’s Family Care program provides these individuals the opportunity to lead an active lifestyle and interact in their community. Due to the program’s success OCO is accepting references for residents and host homes in the Oswego, Fulton, Mexico, Phoenix, Hannibal, and Pulaski areas. 

Host home providers may either own or rent their homes and receive $861 monthly and $150 quarterly per resident. 

Interested in becoming a Family Care host home, or referring someone as a resident? Contact Penny Foster-Pratt at 315-402-2661 or visit


Scenes from OCO's Annual Meeting April 9, 2019

Circles of Security changed our lives
Circles of Security is topic of Annual Meeting guest speakers
Congratulations to Whelahan Award winner
Diane Cooper-Currier and Ron Darrow
Finance Director recognized for service
Howard Wilcox Volunteer of the Year Award presented to John Zanewych
New Board Members welcomed
OCO Ex Dir Diane Cooper-Currier and retiring Board of Directors Treasurer Ron Darrow